Smoking hookah raises risk of diabetes, obesity

Smoking hookah could raise users’ risk of developing diabetes or becoming obese, the Telegraph has reported of a study out of Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

The work, which studied 6,742 nonsmokers, 976 ex-smokers, 864 cigarette smokers and 1,067 hookah smokers, linked smoking hookah to greater rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome and dyslipidemia—all conditions negatively associated with cigarette smoking. According to the Telegraph, it’s the largest study of its kind to date.

“A single session of hookah smoking may be equivalent to more than a pack of cigarettes, and the inhaled toxic compounds may be even greater,” Gordon Ferns, head of the Department of Medical Education at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, told the Telegraph. “It is unclear why hookah smoking is associated with obesity and diabetes. It is possible that the toxins in the smoke stimulate an inflammatory response that causes tissues to become resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin that regulates glucose in the blood.”

Ferns said hookah smoking should be treated no differently than cigarette smoking, especially since the length of an average hookah session exposes smokers to more tar heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals than the 20 puffs it typically takes to finish a cigarette.

“There is now good evidence that hookah smoking is not harmless,” he said. “The risks of hookah smoking with respect to some types of cancer is well-established, and the evidence for an association with cardiovascular disease is growing.”

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